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Re: soil

  • Subject: Re: soil
  • From: michael shelton <wilddog_202@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 12:47:07 -0700 (PDT)

--- Bill Meyer <njhosta@hotmail.com> wrote:

>People have been tilling the soil since time began,
mostly because they found their crops grew better when
they did. I'm sure it didn't come into such widespread
practice in so many parts of the world because it was
a good way to get exercise.

This evolved out of a simple need. Hunter gathers
settled in one spot when they found they could
cultivate the soil for crops. One day one could not
find a rabbit to kill and eat so he ate what the
rabbit was eating and said this ain't bad. 

Now comes the problem, nature had selected a huge
variety of plants to grow in that area. So he dug a
hole and planted some of the rabbit food. Then he had
a few children which needed more rabbit food than he
had so he planted more and more and more and expanded
his crop. The expanded area had to be cleared. 

Everything seems ok up to now but the process was like
mining the soil. Each succesive planting used up the
soil and he had to move or let certain areas go fallow
and regenerate itself (actually God did it). He didn't
know he wasn't God and believed he was in control. 

We are now giving up the idea that we are God and
learning that no-till farming is the way to produce
food and not destroy the soil. A staggering number of
people around the world are working on understanding
the process growing for our needs in concert with the
natural process. 

The main thing learned so far is that tilling is the
worst thing we can do to the soil. It is not easy to
introduce plants or seed without distrubing the soil
but methods are being devised. Long understood is that
cover crops on fallow ground is good but turning them
over (tilling) is not a good way. At least 2 ways are
under intense study; 1) cover crops and plant in the
cover crop. 2)kill the cover crop with herbicide then
plant. The big thing is not to disturb the underliying
soil. Which is where I am in all of this for the hobby
gardener, do not distrub the underlying soil. Mulch
acts like a cover crop, in fact are called mulch in
those systems. Local organic debri (mulch) will give
the soil all that it needs.

Finally, you are asking if I say do not fertilize?
Very little if any is required but go ahead if it
makes you feel better. Also, you ask about amending
and I'm say no it is a waste of time and may get
things out of balance. The process is so complicated
that we the hobby gardeners cannot know what to add or
in what amounts and the test are so complicated that
we could not afford them. BIG AND the results are only
good for the day taken, these billions of organisms
are changing the system constantly. Maybe today
nitrogen is needed but at the same time these organism
are changing the mulch into a form of nitrogen that
the plant can take up. The natural system is trying to
reach equilibrium (balance) 24/7 365 and we jump in
and add something and boom its out of balance. 

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  • References:
    • soil
      • From: michael shelton <wilddog_202@yahoo.com>

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